Digging deeper: What’s the data telling us about the NDP shift

Throughout the campaign H+K is using digital analytics and social listening to provide us insight into what the parties are saying, how audiences are responding and where, if at all, we can see beginning of trends before they are picked up in traditional polling.

This week our focus is on the NDP.

Returning from Victoria Day, new polls have put the NDP party tied with the PCs. What is causing this shift? And how are the parties responding?

And looking at the data we compiled from last week, the shift and the fundamentals were already underway.

There are four key digital stats that show where and how NDP are breaking through:

1. Conservatives Take on NDP

With the NDP closing the gap in the polls, the PCs noticeably shifted their focus to attacking the NDP. This is seen clearly in digital analysis that shows in social conversations in the PC network, “NDP” and “Kathleen Wynne” were about equal and appeared in roughly 12%. It’s also important to note, the focus of the messaging. Unlike the Liberal attack messaging, messaging aimed at the NDP is aimed at the party and not the leader. “Andrea Horwath” is present in only 3.5% of all conversations.

What isn’t punching through? The PCs’ policies. “Gas prices” (2%) and “carbon tax” (0.9%) are almost lost in the conversation.

Conversation about the Conservatives

2. It’s still all about Kathleen Wynne

At the centre of conversations around Andrea Horwath is Kathleen Wynne. The two leaders are intricately linked in conversations. If the NDP represents #Change4Better they are clearly the change to Wynne.

The challenge and opportunity for Horwath is to begin to shift conversations around her and the party towards their own ground and stand against Ford. So far, we haven’t seen this, but next week this is a key conversation area to watch.

Conversation about the NDP

3. NDP lead with women…and it makes a difference on tone

Conversations around the NDP are roughly 42% female while conversations around PC and Liberals are roughly 37% and 38% respectively. While slight, this reflects the audience engaged and shows where the NDP are making gains and resonating.

Overall, conversations remain more positive for the NDP than the other two parties. Why? The NDP until now have been able to campaign on their own platform, not solely on attacking Wynne or Ford. This will shift, as campaigns refocus as the polls shift.

Conversation breakdown by gender

Conversation sentiment

4. Ontario Proud Weighs In

The PC Party was not the only social conversation to turn its sights on the NDP. Ontario Proud, which continues to dominate the Facebook share of voice, saw a shift of messaging from Kathleen Wynne to NDP. The top shared post of the week? Ontario Proud focused on Andrea Horwath and the NDP. As the largest share of voice, where Ontario Proud leads, social conversations will likely follow.

Facebook – top liked post

What’s beneath the shift?

Campaign strategies and reflexes from both the Conservatives and Liberals until now had largely ignored the NDP. Andrea Horwath failed to break through in the past two provincial elections and so until a week ago, messaging and focus wasn’t on the party (as seen in the first debate.)

This previous lack of focus on the NDP, combined with the large negative sentiment still around Wynne and Ford, have given the NDP room to focus their message and connect with key audiences over the first few weeks of the campaign, particularly with more women.

This along with the success of “change” messaging has given the NDP a path to competitiveness and resonance.

The question is now, with parties attention turned on them their record and policies, can the NDP continue to hold advantages with key demographics? Can the Liberals regain lost ground? Will Ford break out of the negative messages in which he’s trapped?

H+K Digital insights are compiled using Brandwatch software.

The conversation analysis looks at all conversation pertaining to a party. This is defined by an that uses a party’s handles, as well as those mentioning the party or its leader in their posts. The query looks at their name and handle, as well as hashtags for the party, for instance #change4Better for the NDP, #fordnation and #wynnefans.

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